An early post on this blog discussed the rights grandparents have to visitation or custody of their grandchildren. The general answer, of course, is none unless a court determines that it is necessary for the best interests of the child. Although we are focused on Tennessee law, obviously, a blog covering Indiana law (no affiliation to our blog) posted about an interesting bill passing through the Indiana legislature that is worth a mention.
Like every state, Indiana requires that a grandparent show that visitation is in the best interests of the child in order for a court to order visitation; unlike Tennessee, however, the Indiana legislature has specifically provided that a grandparent may sue for visitation if the custodial parent is single, divorced, or widowed. In Tennessee, grandparents may only seek visitation when the child has been adopted by a non-relative and neither original parent has custody rights. There is, of course, merit to both positions – a parent’s right to make decisions regarding the development of his or her child is paramount, but it may be best for a grandparent to have some influence as well.
If this Indiana bill passes, however, it will allow grandparents the right to sue for visitation even if both parents are alive, happily married, of sound mind, and raising their children as they see fit. While it is probably best for children to have involved grandparents, it seems unusual for a legislature to consider taking parental rights away without any showing of… anything, really. It would be a grand victory for grandparents, of course. If it passes, it will be interesting to see the results and if other states follow; it will also be interesting to see if the Supreme Court of the United States weighs in.
Grandparents’ Rights are a hot topic right now, and are not always clear. If you have questions or concerns about your rights as a parent or grandparent, you should consult an attorney. For more information on grandparents’ rights and other family law issues, click here.